CROOKSTON, Minn. — The Minnesota State University Moorhead football team opened the season with a 44-20 win over Minnesota Crookston in action Thursday night in Crookston, Minn.
MSUM improved to 1-0 overall and in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference while UMC fell to 0-1. The Dragons have won six straight in the series with UMC and retained the State Farm Traveling Trophy with the win.
The Dragons have now won five straight season openers dating back to 2015.
The Dragon defense forced three turnovers, two of which led to scores. Senior linebacker Carson Zarak had six tackles and a fumble recovery which he returned for a touchdown. Junior safety Shad Vedaa had six tackles and a forced fumble while junior defensive lineman Hunter Sall had six tackles and a half-sack. Junior defensive end Darius Woods-Steichen had five tackles, including 2.5 for loss, a forced fumble and a sack. Junior linebacker Matt Schoh recovered a fumble. The Dragon defense held UMC to 271 yards of total offense.
Junior quarterback Jakup Sinani was efficient with the passing game, going 29-of-39 for 255 yards and two scores. He also rushed for a score. Junior receiver Grady Bresnahan caught 10 passes for 94 yards. Senior running back Herman Gray and sophomore receiver Trent Marquart also hauled in scores.
Junior running back Denver Colgrove rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries while junior running back Ty Jochim rushed for 42 yards and a score on 10 carries.
The Dragon defense set the tone on the first drive as Woods-Steichen tackled UMC quarterback Jalin Scott and forced a fumble on the second play of the game; Zarak picked it up and ran 42 yards for a touchdown to give MSUM a 7-0 lead. The defense then forced a three-and-out, and MSUM went 73 yards on 10 plays on its next possession and scored on Sinani's 3-yard run to go up 14-0 with 6:19 left in the first half.
A 4-yard TD pass from Sinani to Marquart early in the second pushed the MSUM lead to 21-0, and the Dragons took a 21-6 lead into halftime.
MSUM pushed the lead to 31-6 after three quarters, thanks to a 36-yard-field goal from senior kicker Hobet Diaz and a 5-yard touchdown run from Colgrove. Each team scored two touchdowns in the fourth to make the final count 44-20. Gray caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Sinani while Jochim rushed for a 2-yard score after sophomore Deontre Wade recorded an interception.
The Dragons make their home debut on Saturday, Sept. 14 against Minnesota Duluth. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Scheels Field at Nemzek Stadium.
Steve d'Eustachio Stat of the Game: Tonight marked the first time that the Dragons' season opener was on Sept. 5 since beating Concordia College 41-26 at home on this date in 1998. Quarterback Tony Duerr had the seventh greatest rushing game in Dragons history as he ran for 242 yards and 5 TD's to lead the way as the Dragons racked up 538 total yards; 530 on the ground and 8 through the air.